Two cetaceans – alike and different

How can two animals from the same family be alike and different at the same time? Just because they happen to be whales or dolphins doesn’t mean that they eat the same things or act the same way. Blue whales are the biggest mammal and Killer whales are very smart, but there are ways that these two creatures are similar and yet there are ways that they are completely different.

Both Blue and Killer whales are part of the cetacean family, this includes whales and dolphins. They both travel in pods with their families. They are both on the endangered species list: the Killer whale for depletion of their prey, noise disturbance and ship collisions and  captivity; the Blue whale for vessel strikes and fishery interactions. Blue whales travel from warm waters to the cold of the Arctic to feed and travel back to the warm waters to give birth. Killer whales follow the same migration routes as Blue whales, they also feed in the Arctic and have their young in warmer waters of the South.


There are some things about these two species that are very different. Blue whales belong to the baleen group of whales and Killer whales belong to the toothed dolphin group. Blue whales communicate with songs and moans, the sound comes out of their throat with a sound so loud it can be heard for hundreds of miles, Killer whales talk to each other with clicks and whistles. This difference in communication is due to the fact the Killer whales have teeth, they use their teeth and melon to make clicks and whistles, whereas Blue whales use their throat and heads to produce sounds. Killer whales eat fish, penguins, other whales and crustaceans and are a predator, in fact Blue whale calves can be their prey. Blue whales eat krill, as many as 40 million a day, but sometimes they also swallow things that are in their path like squid, fish or crustaceans.

The other huge difference between the two creatures is their size, Blue whales come in around 98 feet long and Killer whales range from 18-32 feet in length.

Want to compare the length of a Blue whale to other things? Go here.

It’s good to know that although Blue whales and Killer whales are both in the same family and that they travel in the same migration patterns, they are also very different species that each have their own unique characteristics.


Anyone whale watching would instantly recognize the Killer whale with it’s distinctive markings of black and white and if you saw a Blue whale you would recognize it by its size, but knowing that these whales are from different parts of the cetacean family can be interesting. Now the next time someone mentions a Killer whale, you can tell them that they aren’t really whales at all, but dolphins in the larger family of cetaceans. You can also tell them that Blue whales are the largest mammal in the world and that they are almost 100 feet long.

1 Comment

Filed under about dolphins, about whales

One response to “Two cetaceans – alike and different

  1. Pingback: » Park day The Colorado Adventure

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s